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Benefits of Openverse for WordPress Sites

Written by Zach Wiesman on
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Searching half a dozen stock image libraries for the perfect photo frustrates many web designers. The new Openverse project from WordPress aims to make finding royalty-free images simple and fast.

Use this post as your guide to the Openverse. We’ll cover what it is, how to use it, and why it could make your job easier and your website better.

What is Openverse?

Openverse is a WordPress search engine for open source media. You can use Openverse to find images and audio files available under a creative commons license.

Originally known as CC Search, this powerful search engine got its start as a part of Creative Commons. When CC Search became a part of WordPress in 2021, it was rebranded as Openverse.

Openverse aims to provide an open-source and royalty-free alternative to paid image libraries. Anyone can use this free service to find and use more than 600 million image and audio files.

How to Use Openverse to Find Audio or Visual Content

Using Openverse is simple and straightforward. Just go to the homepage at wordpress.org/openverse/ and type a search team in the box. You can filter your search depending on whether you’re looking for audio or image content.

Yellow background color WordPress Openverse search tool

You can then view the results and select relevant files to download.

Openverse is a search engine, not a photo repository. The key difference is that it does not host the files – it directs you to where you can find the file yourself. You’ll still need to upload it to your media library.

Once uploaded, consider converting the image to the newer WebP format for the best site performance.

How Openverse Helps Make Better Websites

Openverse is a welcome addition to the WordPress family. The project can make building eye-catching websites easier and faster than ever before.

Benefits of using Openverse include:

  • Faster Design and Development. Openverse eliminates the need to search multiple photo libraries to find the right image. You can design and build sites in less time.
  • Better Looking Websites. Quality images greatly improve a site’s visual appeal. Create a stronger user experience with better images.
  • Lower Image Costs. Stock photo subscriptions and single downloads are expensive. Decrease the cost of using images on your site by searching for royalty-free images.

Openverse vs. WordPress Photo Directory

The WordPress Photo Directory is an image repository of creative commons licensed images uploaded by the WordPress community. When you search for images in Openverse, it will automatically search the WordPress Photo Directory.

If you want to contribute images to Openverse, the easiest way is to upload them to the WordPress Photo Directory.

To contribute or use photos from the WordPress Photo Directory, just go to wordpress.org/photos/ and log in with your WordPress.org credentials.

The WordPress Photo directory only accepts photos that are CC0 licenses. These photos have no rights reserved, so you can use them anywhere, for any purpose, and in any way. There’s no need for attribution.

However, images you find through Openverse may have different licensing requirements, such as requiring attribution. Be sure to note the licensing requirements when searching for files there. Read on for more information on each license type.

Openverse FAQ

Before you search for amazing website photos, let’s answer some of your most pressing questions about using Openverse.

Where Does the Openverse Search Engine Find Images?

In addition to searching WordPress Photo Directory, Openverse regularly crawls locations of creative commons licensed content, including:

  • DeviantArt
  • Flickr
  • NASA
  • Smithsonian museum sites

What Type of Content is Available on Openverse?

Openverse currently supports image and audio search but plans to add other content types, such as video, in the future.

Everything in Openverse is either in the public domain or available under a Creative Commons license. Under the “License” section of an image results page, you will see any restrictions.

Chihuahua dog photo under creative common license via Openverse

Six Types of Creative Commons Licenses on Openverse

  • CC0. This no rights reserved option means the creator released the work to the public domain, and you’re free to use it however you want.
  • CC BY. You can use and modify this material as long as you give credit to the license holder for the original creation.
  • CC BY-SA. You can use and modify this material however you like. The only conditions are that you must credit the creator and then license your adaptation using the same terms.
  • CC BY-ND. You can use this work as long as you credit the creator but you aren’t allowed to adapt or modify it.
  • CC BY-NC. You can use and modify the work for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the creator.
  • CC-BY-NC-SA. You can use and adapt this content for non-commercial purposes if you credit the creator and then license your adaption under the same terms.
  • CC BY-NC-ND. You may not modify this work or use it for commercial purposes. You can share it with others as long as you credit the creator.

You can learn more about the legal terms for each license at creativecommons.org/licenses/.

Build Better Websites with Openverse and Pressable

Openverse should make building websites easier and faster — which is why we’re excited about this expansion to the WordPress community. At Pressable, we strive to make managing your WordPress site as easy and automatic as possible. We offer the tools to manage multiple sites from one dashboard and eliminate some mundane tasks. With automatic updates and the latest security protection, you can rest easy knowing your site will operate safely, smoothly, and fast with Pressable.

Give Pressable a try for yourself to see why so many people trust our cloud-based hosting services.

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Zach Wiesman

Zach has 12+ years of experience with WordPress, from creating and maintaining client sites, to providing support and developing documentation. A knack for problem-solving and providing solutions led Zach to pursue a job with Automattic providing customer support in 2015 working with WooCommerce support, and now Zach has recently joined our team here at Pressable. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and working on projects around the house.